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Unfortunately, the tickets never arrived.
“I was unhappy,” says Hunter who lives in Toronto. “They hurt my son.”
Hunter joins numerous Air Miles collectors who’ve complained to CBC News that they’re having problems getting their hands on their chosen rewards, either because of shipping delays or long waits to reach customer service by phone.
On Aug. 18, he redeemed 780 miles for tickets to an Oct. 23 soccer match.
He says that “100 minutes on the phone in one session is completely unacceptable.”
Air Miles says, on average, 75 per cent of calls are answered within 10 minutes. “We have hired additional staff and are trying to get to each and every call as fast as possible,” said spokeswoman Natasha Lasiuk in an email to CBC News.
Hunter’s still upset he couldn’t get the rewards program to address the problem — before the soccer game.
“They have some fundamental problems with the way they conduct their business.”
Lawrence Comeau from London, Ont. is also still waiting. On Oct. 11, he redeemed 950 miles for an interactive easel complete with LED lights for his two children.
Comeau is now convinced it won’t arrive in time for the holidays.
“I’m disgusted with it,” he says. “We’re on a tight budget this year and that would have been one of the big gifts for Christmas.”
Spokeswoman Lasiuk said Air Miles keeps customers informed of any shipping delays and that they’re “very much an anomaly.”
She added that most collectors receive their merchandise rewards within a few weeks or even a few days.
Comeau believes the delays may be deliberate, so that not everyone cashes in their miles before they expire.
On Jan 1., a new five-year expiry rule for Air Miles kicks in. On that day, all unused miles collected before 2012 will become worthless.
When customers get notice their item is delayed, they’re offered the option of canceling their order.
But Loncar was never able to seal the deal. He says in September, he tried numerous times to contact Air Miles. When he finally got an employee on the phone, he says he was told he’d get a call back 2.5 weeks later to book the trip.
Loncar says Air Miles never called back when it said it would.
“I was just furious,” says Loncar. “I’m being penalized by Air Miles because I couldn’t book when I wanted to.”
‘I don’t want to subscribe to a punishment program anymore’ – Mladen Loncar, Air Miles customer
Loncar complained and got an extra 1000 bonus miles as compensation. But he’s still not happy. “I call it not the Air Miles rewards program but the Air miles punishment program,” he says.
Lasiuk says Air Miles is dealing with an average of 42,000 requests to redeem points per day and is working hard to support the current high demand.
But collectors CBC News spoke with believe Air Miles isn’t doing enough for them, and they’re now considering dropping the program.
“I don’t want to subscribe to a punishment program anymore,” says Loncar.